The effect of various dietary fibres on tissue concentration and chemical form of mercury after methylmercury exposure in mice
The whole-body retention of mercury after exposure of BALB/c mice to methylmercury was measured in animals fed fibre-free, 5% pectin, 5% cellulose or 5, 15 or 30% wheat bran diets. The rate of elimination of mercury was dependent on the diet fed, with dietary bran increasing the rate of elimination. The incorporation of 15 or 30% bran in the diet of the mice decreased the total mercury concentration in the brain, blood and small intestine, although the effects were significant only in those animals on 30% bran diet. The fibres had little effect on mercury levels in other tissues. The proportion of mercury found in the mercuric form was significantly greater in liver, kidneys and gut of mice fed bran. The results suggest that dietary bran may reduce the levels of mercury in the brain after methylmercury exposure and may therefore reduce the neurotoxic effects of the organomercurial. We suggest that wheat bran exerts its effects on mercury retention and brain level via a modification of the metabolic activity of the gut microflora.
Key wordsMethylmercury Mercury Gut microflora Dietary fibre Wheat bran
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